The Eagles enter the 2014 NFL draft holding only six picks. This is a significant departure from previous years and less than ideal in a draft most often described as “deep.”
It is vital the Eagles make those picks count. Wasted selections hastened the decline of the Reid-era Eagles. By contrast, the NFL’s newest model franchise in Seattle just had a seventh-round pick win Super Bowl MVP.
DeSean Jackson’s departure has turned receiver from a strength to a question mark as Jeremy Maclin returns from injury and Riley Cooper tries to replicate his breakout season.
Fortunately, this class of receivers is considered one of the deepest and most talented in memory. Couple that with replacing Jackson, and receiver becomes a trendy choice for the Eagles with the twenty-second pick in the first round. Alternatively, the Eagles could wait until the second or third round and still find first round talent.
Chip Kelly has a reputation for acquiring players he became familiar with during his tenure at Oregon. There are certainly some Pac-12 receivers worthy of interest.
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Fresh off a season where he won the Biletnikoff award, given annually to the nation’s best receiver, Cooks recorded 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Cooks’ height (5-foot-10) and speed (a 4.33 40-yard dash) have led to comparisons to the departed Jackson.
Marqise Lee, USC
Lee won the 2012 Biletnikoff award but followed that with a less productive junior season while battling injuries and coaching changes. Lee would be a familiar target for Eagles’ backup quarterback Matt Barkley, who played quarterbacked USC during Lee’s dominant 2011 and 2012 seasons.
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
A wildcard is one of Chip’s own. Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas was an electric playmaker at running back and receiver for the Ducks, scoring 46 career all-purpose touchdowns. Five of those came on returns, where the Eagles could definitely use another option. The 5-foot-9 speedster dropped off a little bit without Chip around in 2013, so a reunion could be great for both.
Allen Robinson, Penn State
If the Birds look outside the Pac-12, a name closer to home is Penn State’s Allen Robinson. A two time All-Big Ten First-team selection, Robinson set the school’s season receptions record twice. He doesn’t have elite speed but has good size (6-foot-2) and became known as an impressive route runner in Bill O’Brien’s pro-style offense.
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
In a draft where big, athletic receivers are the norm, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin still manages to distinguish himself. Benjamin is 6-foot-5 and weighs 240 pounds, numbers more reminiscent of a tight end. Benjamin led the SEC with 15 touchdown receptions in 2013, and none of them were more important than the game-winner with 13 seconds left in the National Championship contest.